Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Dark, Seedy Underbelly, With Extra Rolls


It isn’t all days of non-alcoholic wine and roses, as we discovered on Sunday when I flipped out after Nicole asked me if I was going to shower.

Let me set the scene: We just put the little monsters down for their naps. I was dressed already in my clothes for the day. Nicole was still in pajamas. We were alone, together, the two of us with no babies hanging from various limbs. I wanted to enjoy what precious few moments we had, and, for a change, not shower and change and jump through things-that-must-be-done-in-the-house- loops.

And so this little spark, once given a little attention and fuel, sparked into a big fire of “We never spend time together” and “You don’t pay any attention to me. It always work, work, work and the babies.” Those, if it isn’t obvious, were my gripes. Hers to me: I shut Nicole out when I feel like this (oh, irony). Nice little mess, eh?

This is just a squall (sudden, violent and brief) but it still highlights an underlying problem with parenthood: When life becomes All About The Babies, where does that leave us? Singular (me) and plural (us).

Throughout the day my first concern is for the girls (Are they safe? Content? Engaged? Fed? Clean-diapered? Eating staples found in the carpet?). There are brief interludes devoted to me (Can I shower? Can I eat? Can I open my computer and read something for five minutes? Can I get another cup of coffee?). And between it all are the tasks I must accomplish throughout the day to keep this house in order (empty the dishwasher; wash the bottles; clean the floor and the counters and the nooks and crannies; do the laundry; cook dinner; make baby food; buy the food, the list goes on and on). Similarly, Nicole has her priorities and obligations and things she needs to do. But where does that leave us? Most times, out in the cold.

When Nicole comes in with so many kisses and hugs for the girls (I do get a “Hi, Mommy” kiss), and little sweet nothings and lots of attention, for a split second I am jealous. I do come to my senses but still, it is hard finding that balance, where everyone gets what they need.

Once you have kids your life goes from Me Me Me and Us Us Us to You You You. Or, in our case, Them Them Them. I knew this would happen, and I can remember some dark days of sadness and grief when I would scream about how much I wanted our lives to have a focus other than us. So now, the weekends roll around and we are not debating if we should go to a movie or not or if we should go out for dinner or not or if we should just lay around all day and do nothing or not. The truth is sometimes I miss it, the sheer indulgence, and the luxury of having a day stretch out in front of you with not a thing to do.

I’ve said this before but I am grateful that we have a strong foundation. It is so clear to me now how couples can easily fall apart once a baby comes into the picture. But even with a solid foundation, it is hard work. A relationship can just fade so slowly that you don’t even know it is happening till it’s too late. Why aren’t there more books written about this sort of thing?

Pictured above, Miss Avery, my little dark beauty. She looks nothing like me! Also pictured, Madeline with Mommy. Is there anything cuter than a baby in a baseball cap? Or a baby trying to help do the paperwork?

17 comments:

Meredith said...

A strong foundation is definitely key. I used to think taking care of kids meant having actual baby-care skills, but that's the easy part! It's the day-to-day selflessness, love, and concern that really matter. I'm really glad we didn't have kids much earlier than now (we've been together 8 years) because we needed the time to become a strong partnership.
At 4:30 this morning, when I was exhausted and could not get our son to go back to sleep, I knew I could count on my wife to take over. To me, that is love. It's not romance, but it's fantastic and wonderful nonetheless.

K J and the kids said...

I bet that when they are a year old you find each other again.
It seems like things settle down a little bit after the first year.
They need less.

utRus said...

i hear you. we've got the same/similar issues. i think most couples do, and with twins I think it's even more exacerbated because there is rarely a time when someone is not assigned (at least one) baby. but I love my husband and I hope we are solid enough to survive all this...

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to thank you. You have inspired me to get sober. baby steps. Last night was the first time that I didn't drink in months. The time before that I stayed sober for 5 days. I also picked up the book drinking a love story. I am taking it one day at a time.
I remember once when I was pregnant.I quit drinking immediately and when I went in to see the dr he asked me if I drank. When I replied not now. He asked me how much I had drank before becoming pregnant. I said about 6 shots a night. He was very concerned. Especially since I was now pg. There was no question for me though about being sober during that time, or while breast feeding. It seems like once the kid is done bf it all goes out the window. THanks again for inspiring me.

EGGS IN THE APPLE said...

Maybe it's something in the west side water that is causing an outbreak of fights. This weekend we spent fighting about several issues in our relationship and what will happen once we bring home the babies. When calmness returned we figured it's pre-birth jitters (never really resolving the deeper stuff) I guess it's all a big roll-a-coaster????

Anonymous said...

I really hope that you dont mind me commenting here about my progress. Day two of being sober. I cant believe how much better I feel. How much more rested that I am. I had a few rough moments last night but I got through it. I am determined and stubborn to not drink at home alone anymore. I don"t go to social functions very much. I am a little worried about this weekend though. I am going to a function where they have the best drinks and my friends will be there. It should be interesting how I handle that.

tracer123 said...

I thought that you put that pic up because both Avery and Nicole have the same expression on their faces, of course Nicole's is minus tongue.

Anonymous said...

Night three and I made it through :)

Jennifer said...

WAY to go anonymous! I have more to say, but I will write it in my next post.....

psapph0 said...

Awesome, Anonymous... keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Night four and I am still here. I almost threw in the towel last night but hung tough. I was thisclose to pouring a drink and gulping it right there in my kitchen. I cant really talk to anyone about this because to talk about it would make it so so real. So I suffer in silence, no one knowing that I am white knuckling it.
According to the drinking a love story book I am in the first stages of alcoholism. I guess it could be worse I could be in the second or third stage and having seizures and the shakes.

francesca said...

you can do it anonymous - one night at a time.

Anonymous said...

Yeah one night at a time. I went five nights. On the sixth night, tonight I met my friends for another friends birthday party. I had three drinks and now I am home. Home where I have already made my first drink of the night at home drinking alone. Who knows what will come. I dont feel drunk, I dont feel like a failure. I made it five nights in a row of not drinking at home alone. Tomorrow I will start again and go for six nights or seven or eight. I fully intended to drink tonight. It was all I could think of all week. Like I knew I could be sober all week because Saturday I was going to be having a big old frosty Midori Margarita.
Baby steps. No it's not an exscuse. It is what it is.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to add that this morning I still dont feel guilty. I had a good time last night. I dont feel like I will have a problem tonight not drinking or this week. I dont plan on going anywhere and drinking either. I finished the drinking book and really loved it. I loved the not yets and isms. A lot of what the character said really hit home. I know that I am on a road to recovery.No I am not in denial.

Jennifer said...

Anon---That is exacty how I stopped drinking. The process took a long time. I would even go as long as a month or two. But, like you, it was one night drinking, three nights off, then one night drinking, then six nights off, then two nights drinking, then twelve nights off. It was random. I stopped and started. Eventully, one of those nights was my last night drinkign. And I never had another. Ironic how that can be called stopping "cold turkey." Right....after a couple of years.

You are doing great. I don't think you are in denial at all. You are handling this the best way for you and that is so so so great. Keep us updated!
You are doing great.

judy said...

I tagged you. If you want to do it here is the link http://averyopenbook.blogspot.com/
If it's not your cup of tea, no problem...just ignore it.

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